Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Joys of Childhood

Krishna and Balarama eating butter “In all activities just depend upon Me and work always under My protection. In such devotional service, be fully conscious of Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.57)

Most of us look back very fondly on our childhood. It was a time of care-free innocence where we didn’t worry about much. When we weren’t in school, we would spend all our time playing or having some sort of fun. We never really worried about anything.

When we become adults, we notice this same attitude reflected in the children that we meet. When out in a public setting, we always see children running around, talking to strangers, and breaking all the rules of social etiquette. For the most part, this behavior is excused by the adults because they understand the innocence of the child. Kids don’t know any better, and they mean well. They aren’t very self conscious and they view everyone as their friend.

Chaitanya Mahaprabhu says that the actual identity of every living creature is that he is the eternal servant of God. If one thinks like that—‘I am no one else's servant; my business is to serve God’—then he is liberated. His heart is immediately cleansed, and he is liberated. And after one has reached that, then all one's cares and anxieties in this world are over because one knows, ‘I am a servant of God. God will give me protection. Why should I worry about anything?’ It is just like a child. A child knows that his mother and father will take care of him. He is free. If he should go to touch fire, his mother will take care of him: ‘Oh, my dear child, don't touch.’ The mother is always looking after him. So why don't you put your trust in God? Actually, you are under the protection of God.” (Shrila Prabhupada, Science of Self-Realization, Ch 8a)

The bliss that children feel is a result of knowing that their parents will always be there to protect them. A child doesn’t worry about how he or she will eat dinner that night or whether they will have enough money to pay the bills. Their mother and father take care of everything, so they are free to enjoy life without any worries.

Lava and Kusha with Mother Sita Devi Though they are just children and don’t have any understanding of the real world, adults can learn a lesson by observing their behavior. Now that we are older, we are more susceptible to be illusioned, one of the four defects of man. Man is subject to four primary defects: being easily illusioned, being prone to commit mistakes, having a propensity to cheat, and having imperfect senses. After finishing school and holding a steady job, we think ourselves the doers of everything. We gather worldly possessions and then start to worry about how we will maintain them. Living with our spouse and children can be one the more stressful stages of our life. Having children means constantly worrying about their safety and well-being. “Are my kids safe? Will I have enough money to support my family? Am I saving enough for them to be able to go to college?” On top of these worries, one has to manage the household affairs, keeping track of bills and expenditures, and making sure that the children are properly attending school and finishing their homework. It’s a life full of worry. While we should definitely be concerned with the welfare of our family, we needn’t be too worried about material affairs since God actually takes care of everything. Our constant hankering and lamenting is actually due to our forgetfulness of the relationship we have with God.

Lord Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, is our original father. He provides protection to all His devotees. It’s just a matter of us realizing that He’s there. If we recognize the fact that He’s always looking after us, it will be much easier for us to approach Him. Through the process of devotional service, we can learn to become attached to Krishna, which will result in all our fears being vanquished. In the Bhagavad-gita, the Lord Himself says that we should practice devotion and make our minds transcendentally situated.

“One who is thus transcendentally situated at once realizes the Supreme Brahman. He never laments nor desires to have anything; he is equally disposed to every living entity. In that state he attains pure devotional service unto Me.” (Lord Krishna, Bhagavad-gita, 18.54)

No more hankering and no more lamenting. Being fully conscious of God, our fears vanish. We return to the mindset that we had during our childhood and enjoy a blissful spiritual life. In this day and age, the best way to elevate our spiritual consciousness is to constantly chant the holy names of God, “Hare Krishna Hare Krishna, Krishna Krishna, Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama, Rama Rama, Hare Hare” It’s so simple, even a child can do it.